Two pages later, however, the next flashback page seems to emphasize the first explanation: that Cream has been pursuing Miracleman for some time. The caption tells us that, while Cream looks on, Miracleman steps “Out of the dark, the dark of legend.”
The word “legend” is an odd word choice. It seems to strain the “out of the dark” refrain, because it requires us to see “legend” not as famous so much as obscuring the truth, and the reader must further connect this obscurity with darkness. But it’s worth pointing out that “legend” (at least since Book One’s first collected edition in 1988) is the title of the second chapter, where it’s connected with Miracleman’s memories of his costumed past. This suggests that the “legend,” out of which Miracleman is emerging, reflects not only the dry facts of Cream’s investigation, now made flesh, but also Miracleman’s own memories of his past, out of which he is indeed emerging.
Subsequent captions reiterate Cream’s reaction, like that of a man suddenly standing before a god. They call Miracleman “unbelievable,” “unknowable,” and “unnerving.” This turns Miracleman’s godlike status, and Cream’s reaction to it, on its head. Cream’s reaction might be worshipful, but it’s also one of fear. But the final adjective, “unnerving,” also suggests how the presence of a god unsettles one’s understanding of humanity, or even seems to lower one’s estimation of it.
Miracleman then speaks to Cream for the first time. His words express a willingness to “trust” Cream, at least for the time being. But they read as confident, even casual, as if his hesitancy to trust is objectively based on Cream’s behavior, rather than fear.
In response, Cream stutters. It’s totally unlike him and an illustration of how unsettling he finds being in the presence of this god.
Once he composes himself, he directs Miracleman to “the bunker in which you were unknowingly subjected to the experiments,” which “is located in Cotswold Hills.” Like other geographic references in Miracleman, the Cotswolds is a real region in England, known for its limestone hills and its rural beauty. The region has inspired composers such as Herbert Howells and Gustav Holst. It’s not clear where in the region the Zarathustra bunker lies, although the area is rural enough that it might reasonably remain a secret. It may also be worth noting that one of the Cotsworlds’s traditional industries is sheep and wool, which reflects the area’s rural nature but might also serve as a metaphor (intended or not) for the way Project Zarathustra has farmed, deceived, and slaughtered the Miracleman Family.
As we near the end of this final flashback page, Cream warns Miracleman that the Spookshow “may have had time to erect defenses” – which we’ve already seen throughout the chapter. In response, Miracleman smiles at Cream and says, “You’re not talking to Mike Moran now, you know.”
It’s a telling moment, in which Miracleman seems to put Cream in his place, suggesting that all of Cream’s training means nothing, in the wake of a superhuman. But Miracleman’s dialogue also seems to denigrate Mike Moran, and we should here remember Miracleman’s rather less subtle description of Mike Moran as “that old, tired body,” immediately upon Miracleman’s return. In speaking of Moran in the third person, Miracleman’s dialogue also seems to confirm the theory (first verbalized in chapter six, but implicit as early as that same line of dialogue in chapter one) that Moran and Miracleman are really two separate people.
Because this is the penultimate page, the dialogue in the Spookshow panel leads into the revelation of Big Ben, on the final page.
The page’s final panel is of Miracleman flying through the air, presumably to the Cotswolds, where he would next approach the bunker, as seen in this chapter’s present-day pages. Miracleman is blurred in the artwork, because he’s streaking through the sky, but if we look carefully, we can see a bulge on his left side. We might confuse this for Miracleman’s leg, except that the panel’s second caption suggests that he’s carrying Cream. It refers to “they,” not “he,” and says that “the man of light [is] carrying the man of shadows.” Although Cream isn’t seen on this chapter’s present-day pages, he’ll rejoin Miracleman in the following chapter.
“The man of light carrying the man of shadows” is an interesting formulation, identifying Cream with the darkness of the title, a darkness linked to covert government programs. In contrast, Miracleman is identified with light, and this is tied to his innocence and to the twinkling glow that surrounds him.
But we shouldn’t ignore the racial overtones present here. Cream is the only black character so far, and he’s a murder who, while certainly competent and as of this chapter no longer a simple “bad guy,” is tied to the secret world of “black ops” that Miracleman doesn’t present in a favorable light. In contrast, Miracleman looks like an Aryan dream; he’s presented as a white, blonde god who, although already morally questionable, remains the story’s hero and is a victim of these same “black ops.” To some extent, Moore and Miracleman are here caught up in the bias of the English language itself, in which “black” has negative associations and is easily poetically linked to terms like “shadowy,” which may be a pejorative simply because human beings fear the night, in which they did not evolve to see well. But such racial tensions have been present since Cream’s introduction (in chapter five), which featured his sapphire teeth and described him as “the Devil.”
The next chapter will directly address this racial subtext for the first time.
Next time, Book One’s penultimate chapter.